By the time Mark Knopfler gets to Fort Lauderdale Halloween night, he will be very well rehearsed. His show at the Au-Rene Theater will be the 86th of his current tour and the last North American date in support of his eighth solo LP, Tracker. But the 66-year-old former Dire Straits frontman is a consummate professional, a four-time Grammy winner, and an accomplished guitar player who is no stranger to long stretches on the road. In fact, parts of Tracker were written during a pair of recent tours opening for Bob Dylan, whose 1983 album, Infidels, was coproduced by Knopfler.
"The tours with Bob Dylan I hadn't expected to turn up, but they did. So that changed the recording schedule," Knopfler explains in a track-by-track video discussion of the album. "I'm glad that all of that happened, because I think that that will have informed some of the stuff on Tracker too."
Dylan's influence is especially prevalent in "Lights of Taormina," a lilting ballad about love in the Sicilian city, with Knopfler's lyrics dotted by his unmistakable finger-picked guitar lines. The album is leisurely, gentle, poetic, and often profound. The Telegraph describes it as "carefully observed songs of ordinary lives." The Guardian offers a similar sentiment: "as much a collection of character studies as songs."
The concept of time looms large over the album, which makes sense given that the Scottish-born singer-songwriter has been making music for nearly 40 years. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Brothers in Arms, the massive 1985 Dire Straits LP that scored three Top 20 singles and launched the band into the stratosphere. Warning: You won't hear "Money for Nothing" or "Walk of Life" on this tour, at least if previous shows' set lists are any indication. But you will hear most of the rest of his Dire Straits hits, as well as solo material, including songs from the several films he's scored.
"I still enjoy playing some of those early Straits songs," Knopfler told Rolling Stone, "and I'm proud of what we did, and certainly we had some great times. It's what we all wanted when we were kids."
8 p.m. Saturday, October 31, at Au-Rene Theater at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $59.50 to $139.50. Call 954-462-0222, or visit browardcenter.org.